Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays!

I'm back!

After four months in the police academy, I have graduated and can resume drawing and fun stuff again! So on my very last report, two days before graduation, my computer finally died. Fortunately I printed out my paper about five minutes before it went wonky. That poor desk top pc had been on its last legs for a while. So naturally I got a new computer (a laptop!)

Not sure how long this free streak will last but I am definitely going to be scribbling and sculpting my fingers off for at least a little while.

Merry Christmas! 
(And go see The Force Awakens if you haven't already!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Etsy Favorites Nov. 18, 2015

Three weeks left of the police academy. I've been busy. With Christmas rolling around the corner (sorta), I've already started looking for gifts. Here's a list of my recent Etsy faves so you can oggle and hopefully get some good ideas!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cosplacon 2015: Artist Alley Review

This was my second year at Cosplacon, located in Jefferson City, Missouri. My commute this year was much shorter so I slept at home and skipped the hotel cost.

Cosplacon is a nice show, friendly staff and homey feel.
Venue & Location
Cosplacon is held in the Capitol Plaza Hotel, same hotel as last year. It’s pretty easy to get to if you’re coming from the north. It two turns off the major state highway and you can’t miss it. However, it is in downtown – a smallish downtown—so expect weird traffic, lots of stoplights, and lanes the force you to turn.

The CPH has plenty of parking for the size of the convention, although you might find yourself parking around back. There’s also an underground garage but I’ve never been down there. The loading dock that’s in the back is ridiculously steep, so I suggest anyone who can go through the front doors to do so. Even that wheelchair ramp is pretty steep though.

The hotel’s nice, not lavish. Since I haven’t stayed here before, I can’t really provide a narrative on how the rooms and service are. However, they set up a hot food line in the dealer’s room this year which all sorts of tasty things. They had this taco salad from heaven made with Doritos… best part of my weekend.

Artist Space
Artists and dealers were in the same room again this year. There was plenty of room in the aisles for the crowds to move around in. The space was a 10x10 booth space in the contract, although I think they measure closer to 8x8. The space came with a 5’ table and two chairs. The tables were covered by this spandex material that wraps tight all the way down the sides of the table. It looks really cool, but the cover made it impossible to store anything under the table, or even push your chair in if you wanted it to stand.

The booths were back to back in several rows, with dealers around the perimeter of the room. Each space is separated by tall drapes and curtains in the back, and short drapes on each side. We were also next to the main events room and the music would bleed over. It got so loud sometimes that I couldn’t hear the person next to me. I was also on the side of the room closer to that wall though.

Sales for me were about the same as last year, which is to say good. Many other artists I spoke to said they did a lot worse than last year.

Friday started really early—9:30 AM. What?! I don’t remember if it was this early last year but I was certainly still waking up when they opened the doors. Fortunately, vendors weren’t the only ones tired that early in the morning. People didn’t start showing up for a long while. Traffic remained pretty light into mid afternoon, but sales were good. I made quite a few large sales on Friday. At the end of Friday, I had sold almost $500, which was more than half what I anticipated for the weekend. Unfortunately, it looked like I was abnormally lucky, because tons of other vendors said they were disappointed, even for a Friday.

Saturday started just as early and traffic was weak. It was mostly the same crowd that was there Friday, just meandering and hanging out. Some artists had no one stop by most of the day, while all the dealers were extremely crowded, although I think it was mostly people looking not buying. Once the costume events began, the room was dead. There would be blocks of hours that go by without a single sale. By the end of Saturday, I think morale felt pretty down. No one seemed to have done well, and many artists experienced only a handful of sales all day.

Sunday was no different, with slow traffic and mostly people killing time. Many artists and dealers packed up early because the room emptied out after noon and had almost no traffic for the rest of the day. Plus, a gigantic storm was blowing east across Internstate 70 so anyone headed towards St. Louis was advised to either pack it up mid-day or chance getting stuck until the storm blew over. By the afternoon, the room was half empty and the rest of us were just waiting out the storm and socializing. I’d say everyone I talked to did not do as well as they hoped.

For me, Friday was one hell of a fluke because I think I made more sales in one day than most people made all weekend. It was my saving grace, but I can’t speak for anyone else.

The Cosplacon crowd is all encompassing. Because it’s not an “anime” or “comic” or whatever convention, there’s no real niche that attracts a certain group. Cosplay is the focus, and you have families, teenagers, seniors, everyone dressing up and coming to enjoy the weekend.

The crowd is also really nice. You get the best of Mid-Mo who all just want to have a good time.
Staff & Volunteers
Cosplacon staff are always wonderful. The people who work it care about their guests and try really hard to make things run smoothly. Staff and volunteers came by to check on me several times each day. I was also able to request a new booth space to avoid one of my neighbors (because of product competition, not because of unfriendliness).

Final Verdict
I don’t know, my feelings are pretty mixed about Cosplacon. I’ve had 2 good years in a row and I love the cosplays. For me it’s close to home so I don’t have to travel much. Based on sales for everyone else though, I don’t think I can recommend it to artists and dealers that have high overhead. It’s still pretty small.

 When packing up and leaving, the humidity was insane. Just from carrying my print box from the hotel door to the car, the condensation built up thick within a matter of minutes. So gross -_-

Friday, August 14, 2015

FAQ Mailing Packages

Many of us have expanded out art from beyond our tables and into the realm of online sales. There are so many upfront decisions when making this leap. This article will be sticky, and I will continue to add to it as I learn more and get more questions.

My experience has largely been with USPS, although I've used UPS a bit when USPS was not an option. I've mailed thousands of packages, from gifts to product, through the mail system in the last five years, so hopefully some of my experiences will help those of you who are new or have questions.

Who can I use to mail my packages?
I suggest the United State's Postal Service for both domestic and international shipping. Unless you're shipping furniture or something equally abnormal, USPS's services will be more than adequate for your needs.
There are also private shipping companies available. UPS, FedEx, and DHL are fairly common in the US if you're not a fan of USPS. I prefer USPS because I find their extra services (flat rate boxes, signature service, insurance, etc) very straightforward and easy to use. Also, you can find a post office anywhere. Some regions won't have a FedEx nearby, or there's only a UPS drop box but no store.

Can I print my labels online?
Yes! On the USPS website, you can print labels for priority or express packages. But what if you want to mail your things via First Class (which is way cheaper)? Fortunately, there are subscriptions services like that will allow you to print FC labels. However, that may be out of your budget unless you're a legit small business with lots of packages to send off.

What I use is PayPal. When someone pays via PayPal, you can be prompted to print a shipping label. However, if you're sending a gift, or the person paid without PayPal, you can still use their service by going to TADA!

I suggest printing online when possible, because USPS actually offers a small discount when you print your labels online instead of going in to a post office. Oh, and free tracking on your package!

Do I really need tracking? How do I get it?
Tracking is actually called delivery confirmation by USPS, but don't worry, it will tell you as your package hits each hub and post office, as well as when it's delivered. Tracking automatically comes with any labels purchased online. If you go into a store, I think it's an extra $0.85 for domestic and you can ask for it when you pay for your label. I recommend paying for tracking for EVERY package you mail out. You want to know it was delivered in case a customer tries to say it never arrived and wants to scam you for a refund or a free product.

Your tracking number for each package will be available on your receipt.

If shipping internationally, tracking is hella pricy and generally requires you to ship via Priority or Express.

I heard USPS is unreliable and won't handle packages carefully.
All shipping companies are comprised of people. People can be assholes. However, I have had very few problems with USPS after thousands of pieces of mail. Maybe one in a hundred will be in rough shape upon arrival, but I've only had 3 instances ever where a package arrived completely obliterated.

Sometimes there can be a delay, which is why they quote that FC mail will take 2-5 business days. The mail must make it from your post office, through sorting centers, to the destination post office. If you or the recipient live in a small town, or further from one of the main hubs, you can expect an extra day or two to get tacked on to the minimum wait. I live in the middle of the country and rarely does it take more than 3 days to get anywhere.

During the holiday season, USPS gets swamped and the delays can get bad. When I lived in St. Louis, I never saw much delay in my packages, even the week before Christmas. Now that I've moved to a more rural region, sometimes I really feel it. Very few packages have ever gone completely missing, but it can happen and it's more likely if you don't get tracking or insurance.

Speaking of insurance, it's a good idea to get familiar with it and consider buying it for all your packages. I know, it's an extra cost, but sometimes it's really worth it just for the peace of mind. Also note Priority mail automatically comes with $50 of insurance.

How does insurance work?
So you mail a package and you pay for insurance and tracking. It arrives but your beautiful OOAK pendant has been crushed inside the package. Assuming you packaged it appropriately, you can take proof or the broken/damaged item (photos, or have the item returned) and your receipt to file a claim. You will receive your money back, minus the shipping I believe.

Do not lie about the value of your package. USPS will want:
  1. proof of damage
  2. proof of value
  3. proof of insurance
  4. completed claim form
Also, some items cannot be insured, such as coins and precious metals. Double check with your shipping company if you're unsure.

You will not get your money back if you packaged the item poorly. For proper ways to prepare mail, please refer to this article.

I've never actually had to file a claim before so this is just from my own reading and research.

Can I just write FRAGILE on the package? Will they purposely break packages with FRAGILE written on it?
This is new, but writing FRAGILE or any similar phrase on your package entails a fee; I believe $10. They don't always apply it, but don't get slammed with it. Some people have suggested writing things like, GLASS or PERISHABLE instead of fragile, but to me it's all the same. Just get the insurance or send at your own risk.

I trust my postal workers, I really do. I don't think that they're all out to be jerkbags and break my mail. However, it only takes one. And for all you know, it's not even a guy from your local post office, it's some jerkbag in the mail room on the other side of the country. There are countless tales of horror on the internet about fragile packages getting tossed and slammed and run over, but just remember that no one writes an article when mail arrives fine.

USPS Shipping Restrictions
Be aware that USPS, and other carriers, have a list of things you can't mail. This is usually for safety reasons. Click here for the USPS restricted items list.

Can I under-declare the value on an international package?
If you mail internationally, you'll learn that many other countries levy customs fees that you've probably never experienced here in the states. Some countries do it to maintain their import/mail services, others do it to exploit their citizens. Many people will request you to mark the package as a "gift" or declare a lower value on the customs form.

DON'T DO THIS. It's illegal, and not just like making-an-illegal-u-turn illegal, we're talking federal offense. I know, crazy. Did you know smashing a mail box will nab you a federal felony whereas beating the crap out of your ex could just end with a misdemeaner? Well, the mail system belongs to the feds, so any fraud or misuse ends with a federal violation. Fines and prison time. For lying on a form.

Tell your customers you will not lie on the forms even if they give the world's saddest sob story about how they can't afford the customs fees but really want that scarf for their dying mother's last birthday. If you accidentally mark it wrong and get caught, you'll want to be as honest as possible about your mistake. Seriously though, don't do it.

What happens if I send it to the wrong address?
If you misspell the street name or mix up one number but the rest is fine, your package should be ok. Let the recipient know that you made a mistake so they can either speak with their neighbor or postal carrier and try to nip the problem. Also, most carriers will know that Allison Bailey lives at 117 River Street, not 17 River Street because they deliver their mail every single day. Track it and chill.

However, if a large portion of the address is incorrect or the location doesn't exist, the package will be returned to you under most circumstances (return address is legible). It can take ten days to several weeks though.

If the customer provides the wrong address (moved, gave you an old one, misspelled), you're not in the wrong. You can request they wait until you receive the original back, or file claim if you bought insurance, before moving forward.

How do I ship a print?
Depending on the size of your print, you have two easy options: flat mailers or tubes. You can reinforce soft envelopes with chipboard, cardboard, or anything rigid. However, for prints larger than 8x10, I recommend tubes. You can get cylinders or triangles in singles or bulk from many different retailers. Slide your print in a plastic sleeve for protection, roll, and slide into the tube for mailing. It won't cost any more than if you shipped it flat. However, I know some people hate having their prints rolled so it's up to you.

Just make sure if you sell prints that are 11" long when rolled, you buy a tube that's at least 12" in length.

How do I ship fragile small items?
My jewelry is made from polymer clay and fairly fragile. I place the jewelry in a small Kraft gift box. Inside the gift box is a small cotton block, but I sometimes have to supplement with bubble wrap so the jewelry doesn't bounce around in there. Then I place the box in a 6x9 manila envelope with a business card and tape it closed. If your items don't fit into a small box, consider copious amount of bubble wrap and rigid material. If an envelope doesn't work, check wholesalers/retailers for small shipping boxes. I wouldn't go smaller than 6 x 6 x 6 (mug sized).

What is a Flat Rate Box?
USPS offers this awesome service to make things easier for us. There are several different Flat Rate options including several envelopes and many sizes of boxes. All the FR packages are sent Priority Mail domestically and internationally, with options for Express. You can fill each box as much or as little as you want for the same price. There are some weight limits, but you'd have to be filling the box with cement to even come close.

Best part is all the FR boxes are available for free. You can walk into into post office lobby and get as many as you need or want. Too busy? You can also order them for free online. Your mail carrier will bring them in 1-2 weeks and you never even have to change outta your jammies. Check out what they have here.

Do keep in mind that FR is more about the convenience than price. You'll probably still save money by manually calculating your weight and getting your labels the old fashioned way, unless you're shipping something heavy.

Another awesome use for the FR boxes is if you're mailing things to military. It's the same price whether you're sending it to Fort Benning in Georgia or Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.


Have a question I didn't answer? Want to make a correction? Leave a comment!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Anime Crossroads 2015: Artist Alley Review (Incomplete)

Sorry for the delay. During some chaos, all my notes for ACross disappeared and I've been trying to write this with what little other scratch notes I had taken.
This was my first year attending Anime Crossroads in Indianapolis, IN. It’s been going for a few years and I’ve heard that some years have been great, others not so great. Last year they had a winter storm over the weekend, which didn’t help the convention at all. This year we got about 8” of snow Saturday but fortunately it was all cleared by Sunday. I was afraid my little car wouldn’t be able to drive out of the parking lot for a bit there ^_^’

Located in the southwest edge of Indianapolis, the Wyndham Indianapolis West is just a few turns off Interstate 70. For me, it was a straight shot on one highway. There was a little bit of food if you wanted to drive, but not much else aside from hotels and gas stations.

The hotel was nice, we’ll go with that. It was small but the staff were very friendly and there was nothing extravagant, just simple little rooms and a small lobby. The parking lot was big enough to accommodate a lot of vehicles. The artists and dealers were able to load in through a set of side/back doors that were right next to the AA, which was nice. It was a bit tricky to find the ramp though, since it was aesthetically hidden behind a decorative wall. Decorative wall? Yeah.

Artist Space
Artists were located in an alcove-like room right around the corner from the main events room. Dealer’s were a further walk down the hall. So at first glance, it looks like we’re in a room because you walk through an open walkway to get into the AA, but at second glance I and other artists realized there were no doors. Each night, they lined up a bunch of chairs to block off the walkways but it was pretty much an open alley. I went ahead and left all my stuff behind the table and I don’t think anyone had any problems.

Fun fact: the maid cafĂ© was in the same space, but partitioned off by tables and tall drapes. The maids and butlers were the best I’ve ever seen at a con. Friendly, adorable, and very helpful. I absolutely love them.

All weekend it was cold. The wall that I was against was 90% window, like the really big ones that go all the way up. There were some heavy drapes, but we could only figure out how to draw one set closed (we pulled it really hard). Fortunately it had been a cold week anyway, so everyone had a coat somewhere and I even had an extra blanket.

The artist alley was very much geared towards crafters. Not that there weren’t very many print artists, but only one or two that were dedicated print artists. I did get to see some crafts that I’ve never encountered much of before like shadow boxes and some very different art styles.

Sales & Attendees
I had a fantastic time with great people and great sales. I had heard many ups and downs about AC from other artists, almost alternating each year. I know last year a big winter storm wiped out half the weekend and sales plummeted. Fortunately that was not the case this year despite our many inches of snowfall.

The entire weekend felt busy and the AA was pretty alive all weekend. You had your half hour here and there with nothing but in between the popular events, it was pretty crowded. I had quite a few opportunities to walk around and talk to other artists, even meeting some lovely peeps from AANI.

Staff & Volunteers
Aside from a few unanswered emails, I had no issues with any staff. They were polite and helpful when needed. I think it was a little bit disorganized since I didn’t get much information about load in, location, or policies and the way it was set up. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Grab Bag Sale!

After being sick for two weeks, I'm finally back up and at it. With the end of my full time convention career, I still have a ton of stock to get rid of so here we go!

That's right, you  pick a price. Want to spend $5? Want to spend $100? It's up to you! This sale will last until I run out of inventory. Each grab bag will contain an extra 100% than normal and if you spend more than $20, shipping inside the US is free!

Email or message me on FB or Etsy and I'll get your ginormo fun pack shipped off right away.

What's in these grab bags? Anything I sell at my table. Prints, acrylic charms, jewelry, bookmarks, buttons, figures.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Safety I: Kind Stranger Scams

Today I’m going to write about something that happened to me this past weekend as I was coming home from Anime Midwest.

I traveled to and from Anime Midwest with Alexis, all our stuff crammed into her Honda. The convention didn’t end until 5pm, and we got a late start on the road because I’m such a slow packer. It was late and dark out when we pulled into a Love’s truck stop for gas. It was well lit, visible from the exit ramp, and had quite a few other vehicles in it.

We were pre-paying for fuel in cash so like always, I pulled the bills out of my purse before stepping out of the car. As I closed the door, I heard footsteps coming my direction and saw a really scraggly looking guy coming towards me with a gas can.

“Excuse me ladies, I don’t mean to bother you but I was wondering if you could spare some gas? Our radiator blew and my wife and baby are in the car over there. I’m not asking for money, just a little gas to get us on our way. We were on our way home from Chicago.”

After he finished his sad story, I plainly told him we didn’t have any extra dollars. When I stepped in to prepay, he and his truck had already disappeared.

Red Flags

  • He was white, male, in his 20s, barefoot, wearing tattered clothing and looked like he hadn’t showered since he was 10.
  • He was carrying a red gas container in a plastic bag. The bag is used for huffing the fumes, according to my law enforcement hubby.
  • His truck was parked in the darkest part of the parking lot.
  • He walked past several other vehicles and people to ask Alexis and I, who were the only travelers that were all female.
  • There was no wife and baby, but I could clearly see his male buddy waiting in the truck.
  • He was gone as soon as I stepped inside to pay.
  • You don’t need gas to fix a broken radiator.

 This is the kind of stuff you read about in those warning emails your mom forwards to everyone on her contact list. Is it possible that he wasn’t lying through his teeth? Yes, but unlikely.

These are “kind stranger” scams. They’re hoping that you’ll do something nice for them because they have a sad story for you; and it’s never anything crazy, just little favors, a few dollars. The reason these are dangerous is not just because they make you uncomfortable and sort of a jerk for not helping, but because you never know what they really want from you.

This guy probably just wanted a tiny bit of gas so he and his buddy could get high, or a few dollars. But what if he was waiting to see where I might pull out that extra dollar or two, and he and his buddy robbed me?

Usually with scams like these, a woman will come ask you for money/help, while the guy holds a “baby” on the other side of the parking lot. The woman is much less threatening and so they’ll send her to approach people because who doesn’t feel bad for a stranded mother and baby?

Also be aware of similar scams where people might ask for small favors. Examples include:

  • Do you have a light?
  • Can you break a five?
  • Do you have a pen I could borrow?

These will usually take place in a parking lot, garage, or gas station. When you open your wallet for those singles or your bag for that pen, they’ll be able to quickly case you and know:
  • Where you keep your money
  • How much cash you have
  • If your wallet is in your purse or pocket
  • How easily distracted you are
Even if they’re holding a cigarette in their hand when they ask for a light, be aware of your surroundings. Sometimes they’ll pick your pocket, sometimes they have a buddy who will come up behind you while you’re digging around in your bag. This robbery method actually became quite a problem a few years back at the shopping mall where I worked. A woman would ask strangers to break a five dollar bill. When they were pulling out singles, her accomplice would come up behind the kind stranger and demand their wallets. This happened A LOT.

So what do you do if someone approaches you for help?

You could help. Someone’s keys are locked in their car and they need a little money for a locksmith? Offer to call the locksmith for them, and pay the guy directly. You’ll normally see how fast the story changes if they didn’t actually need a locksmith.

You can say no. Need a light? Sorry I don’t smoke. Need change? Sorry I don’t carry cash. Even if you dismiss them with a “logical explanation” you’ll still want to keep an eye on them and your surroundings. Just because you tell them you don’t carry cash doesn’t mean they didn’t notice your iPhone, engagement ring, or leather bag.

And if you’re going to turn someone down, don’t be wishy washy about it. They’ll sense your hesitance and keep trying because maybe you’ll give them that few dollars just to get them to go away. The guy I encountered kept walking towards me while talking. No matter how small, sad, or harmless someone seems, don’t let them get close enough to grab or rush you. At about 10 feet, I stepped towards him (one step) and he stopped. Don’t shrink back or turn away. Be resolute and he’ll likely leave to find an easier target. 

Other tips:
  •  Handle your cash somewhere that's not publicly visible. Get your debit card/cash out before leaving your vehicle so you never have to open your wallet or purse where other people are watching.
  • Don't go into details about what you're doing. If you tell them you're coming home from selling at a convention, it just screams ROB ME.
  • Pay attention to your bubble. There's nothing wrong with telling someone to back up if they're getting too close.
  • Consider defense tools and training. I'll go into that another time.
  • Always be ready to move. This might be the crazy in me talking, but mentally prepare to take action quickly, be it running or fighting. Freezing up equals bad.

Remember, most crime takes the path of least resistance and greatest convenience, so don't be an easy target.

Stay safe, stay alert. Situational awareness is the best preventative from becoming a victim.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Artist Alley Review: OMG!Con 2015

After a string of ups and downs this convention season, I was exhilarated with how much fun OMG!Con was. I think I can easily say it was the BEST convention weekend I’ve had in a very long time, inside and outside of the artist alley.

So introduction to the convention. This was OMG’s 10th anniversary. In years past, they were a strictly no fanart alley, which deterred a lot of artists. This year, they opened it up to 50/50 fan art and original art. This year, it was also held in the lovely Owensboro, KY, instead of Paducah. While it’s 2 hours further away for me, I must say that Owensboro is a beautiful city on the Ohio River. I’d heard some… not good things about Paducah as a whole and nothing but good things about Owensboro.

OMG is a juried alley.

This was a hot weekend, and really humid too. Fortunately, heat was the only weather issue, but it because quite a force to contend with during the evacuation. I will tell that story at the bottom.

Here we are!
 Owensboro is a skip south of Evansville, IN. Literally to the southeast just across the Ohio River. You can follow just a few major highways. The convention was located Downtown, which is actually a ridiculously amazing place. There’s plenty of parking within walking distance, all free, lots and streetside. There are also a lot of little places to eat dotted around with live music at night.

My favorite thing about the downtown area was the riverfront. It wasn’t just some steps leading down to the banks, or jagged rocks with a tiny cut path. This was a paved walk, complete with swinging benches, art sculptures, amazing synchronized fountains and picture perfect landscaping. I also really wish I had more time to explore the area. There was a city musem just a block or two away!

Also good to note, traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as you’d expect. That’s probably because you could walk anywhere. I’d also like to say kudos to the foot patrol officers walking around in their gear in the humidity and heat. Poor guys.

The Owensboro Convention Center is a beautiful building, inside and out. The architectural design is amazing, with geometric glass walls in the front. Inside was spacious, clean, and straightforward. The parking lot was decently sized, especially for downtown, but it certainly wasn’t enough to accommodate everyone. If you arrived late, you would probably end up parking across the street or a block or two away. Not a big deal though. The sidewalks are wide, the area is safe. OCC isn’t massive, but nothing felt too small. Definitely a good fit for OMG!Con.

The OCC was really cool. On the second floor, there were large windows that overlooked the vendors room and the rave. You could people watch like a creeper up there, and it was kinda neat.

I stayed in the Hampton Inn & Suites, which was right next to the OCC. They had a large, private parking lot, pool, workout gym, and nice rooms. However, at $125 per night as the convention rate, I almost cried. I understand that it was downtown, but I paid for a Sheraton room with two queen beds in Chicago for less. I suggest find a less expensive option elsewhere. You can reach the other side of Owensboro in about 15 minutes where the lodging is much cheaper.

My favorite part about the rooms was the size of the bathrooms. Five cosplayers could change, do makeup, and fix their hair all at the same time in there.

Artist Alley Space
The AA and dealers were located in the same space, with artists in front and dealers in back. However, the dealers were section off from us by drapes, and they also closed a half hour earlier than the AA every day.

Tables were 8’ long with a ton of space to either side and around. It was definitely set up spaciously, which I didn’t expect. Each table came with 2 chairs and a little cardboard trashcan (they were actually kinda cool). The restrooms were a skip out the door and there was only one entrance in and out of the room aside from the dock doors. I was the first table on the right when you entered the room, which was a good spot. Most people walking in passed me without a second glance, but I caught more of the people on their way out. The way the tables were arranged, there were no “bad spots”. The amount of space in general was just amazing. Aisles were wide enough to accommodate a large crowd moving through, no problems.

Wifi was available for free, and it worked very well. No spotty service at all. Outlets were available for everyone against the wall. Staff also gave us bottled water all three days. Friday, the air conditioner was cranked and it was freezing. I think staff got the hint and tried to remedy the cold by opening the dock doors for a little bit Saturday and Sunday. When they did, the AA became a tunnel for wind that dragged through the building and almost took down my displays a few times. Aside from that, it was pretty comfortable.

Sales were very good all around. This turned out to be one of the best conventions in this category all year. Ironically, every con I’ve ever done in Kentucky before had me barely breaking even so I was really nervous about this one. Not sure what was difference with OMG, but money was being spent for sure. I heard quite a few people mention how happy they were to see fan art in the alley again. Despite this, I can say that it didn’t affect what I sold. My original art moved just as well as fanart.

A small crowd had formed as we opened on Friday, and it consisted of a lot of parents. It started as a typical Friday; lots of people were just hanging out, taking a look. Of course, there were slow and steady sales.

As the afternoon rolled around, it got a little slower as panels and activities started up. People and sales came in small waves, with lots of down time in between. During these times, however, people were definitely spending money.  The last half of the day slowed to a crawl, with the entire room being mostly empty. At the very end of Friday, I had a little jump in last minute sales but ended it quietly. A lot of other artists said they had broken even by that evening, which was good.

Sloooow times
I sold a butt load of prints and earrings. A butt load. Despite paying a fortune and splurging on the hotel and meals, I still broke a grand this weekend.

The crowd went straight to the dealers when the doors opened, but as the day continued, sales stayed steady. I was very surprised by how many people were buying multiple items without blinking and doing it table after table.

Saturday was interrupted by an evacuation order, where we lost about an hour and a half of selling time. I’ll cover that in the “staff” section, because I feel it’s more relevant to talk about how the staff handled the incident than how it affected sales.  When we opened again in the afternoon, sales slowed down a smidge but there was a steady stream of people coming in and still buying.

Quite a few artists expressed that Saturday was slower for them than Friday, but they also mentioned having sold out of their big ticket items Friday. I guess everyone expected it to be smaller and slower, I know I did. Fortunately I had over prepared to make it through another convention the following weekend, which I then had to restock during the three days in between like a mad badger :P

Sunday continued, a little slower than the past two days, but the sales were big as people went back for the things they had seen earlier, or just trying to spend the rest of their money. Again, the room emptied out toward the last few hours. I did make a ton of last minute sales right before the room closed. That last 15 minutes was amazing, especially for my earrings.

Some booty (Left to right):
Sweets Haven, Mimosa Studio, Skullcat Studio

The AA coordinator, Jordan, did a fantastic job. It was her first year running it and you wouldn’t know unless she told you. She checked on all the artists every few hours and was very accommodating. Emails were also answered extremely expediently. I saw her a lot this weekend because she had a table right next to me with badges and programs ^_^ She personally checked each table to make sure it complied with the 50/50 rule and provided us with water and soda, while also running around doing other things for the convention.

Staff in general were very diligent and did a great job running the event. Badges were actually checked at each door, all problems were addressed professionally. The staff really cared. The promotion of “cosplay is not consent” was very aggressive and they took all harassment seriously.

So Saturday afternoon, fire alarms went off in the building. You could see the confusion as attendees moseyed out the doors and artists and dealers scrambled to grab purses, laptops, and cash boxes before getting corralled out of the building.

Outside was about nine bajillion degrees of sweltering hell, and the hundreds of bodies packed the lawn and streets outside the center. Someone had called in a bomb threat and the building locked down. Police and EMT arrived quickly to help control the crowd, not that there were any problems. After the first fifteen minutes, you could tell the heat was starting to get to people, especially those in cosplay.

During the evac :D
Staff made rounds every few minutes to give the crowd updates and what was happening, how long they were expected it to take. They also had a water tent set up, and several other staff were walking around with cases of water handing it out to anyone who wanted one. The sheer amount of bottled water that was consumed during that hour in the sun must’ve been phenomenal. An ice cream truck also came by and made bank. Cosplayers were also being directed to go into the Hampton Inn hotel, where they could stay cool in air conditioning. I personally enjoyed the sun and heat, but most people weren’t handling it well.

After OCC staff and the OPD bomb tech cleared the building, we were allowed back in slowly and orderly. Artists and dealers were given an extra half hour to reset and check their booths before it was reopened to the con. Despite this break in the day, I don’t think it affected sales much.

I’d like to say that OMG staff did an exceptional job taking care of everyone at the convention the entire weekend.

Final Verdict
Five stars across the board. I honestly can’t think of anything OMG!Con could’ve done better. I highly recommend them to artists far and wide and will definitely be going back next year if my schedule works out. Fantastic staff and beautiful location. And a free photo booth. Yeah.